As most budget airline passengers entering Taiwan from the Philippines, we arrived early morning at Tao-yuan airport. Some people, probably waiting for their flights or for the MRT to open, were sleeping on most of the airport’s seating area and quite a few, like us, have decided to make their way to the city via (KuoKang) Bus #1819 to Taipei.
The final stop for the bus is at the Taipei Main station, which is conveniently near our hostel of choice, Mister Lobster’s Secret Den . I admit that it was still quite a walk, especially when you have all your luggage with you. It also doesn’t help that we haven’t had any decent sleep yet.
Since it was still early morning and barely 5 AM, we were unable to check-in yet but we were allowed to leave our luggage and they were nice enough to let us hang-out in the hostel’s common areas. We caught about an hour’s sleep (at the lounge area lol) before setting out for the day’s itinerary, which is a condensed city tour of Taipei.
Walking towards the Taipei Main Station on a weekday office morning, I was surprised at how very few people were walking on the main roads of the city. Almost nobody was using the overpass or the pedestrian lanes. I remember saying out loud “asan ang mga tao?” (where are the people?). We eventually saw people when we got inside the train stations, but where did they come from? Eventually, we came to learn that pedestrians are using a very extensive underground network of tunnels which actually connects 3 major malls and the major trains stations, and they are all underground! Amazing isn’t it?
Taipei Main station is HUGE. I’m just not sure which is bigger, Shinjuku Station in Japan or this one. But one thing’s for sure though, Shinjuku station does not have the big-ass open-wide lobby of the Taipei Main station, and the Japanese counterpart’s ins and outs feels rather claustrophobic. For a Pinoy like me, an MRT station of this scale is unimaginable and just jaw-dropping.
Our first stop was the Taipei 101. It was almost 9 AM when we got there, just as people are starting to go to work. Formerly known as the Taipei World Financial Center and officially classified as the world’s tallest building way back in 2004, it currently stands at 10th. It used to hold the record as having the fastest elevator in the world (now given to the Shanghai Tower in Shanghai, China), but still currently holds as the title for the tallest & greenest building in the world.
Due to lack of sleep, we wanted to perk ourselves up and we decided to stay at Starbucks near the food-court to grab some caffeine buzz and inject ourselves with much needed energy. At this point, our friend Benj was so sleepy that he began to doze off right there and then 😅
That spot was nice to be at for people-watching (a guilty pass-time lol), as people were just starting to come in for the daily grind and on their way to their offices. After about an hour of lounging in the coffee shop, we proceeded to go to the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall, which (according to Google Maps) was a 20-minute walk from Taipei 101.
On our way there, we took more photos of the gigantic tower behind us. As we walked further, we passed by the very modern-looking Taipei City Hall, another pleasant surprise, as it wasn’t included in our itinerary.
After taking a few photos, we then continued on to Sun Yat Sen Memorial. Passing by several main roads, we noticed how bike-friendly the roads are. Something we can definitely wish for the Philippines.
SUN YAT SEN MEMORIAL HALL
Completed in 1972 and built as a tribute to the Republic Of China’s national father , Dr. Sun Yat Sen, this popular tourist spot contains displays of Dr. Sun’s life, and also serves as a multi-purpose social, cultural and educational center for the public.
Since it was baking hot under the afternoon sun, we just took a few photos on the wide-open grounds and proceeded to rest on the waysides under the shades of the park trees. After a few minutes, we made our way back to the MRT Taipei 101 station to proceed to our next destination.
HOW TO GET TO SUN YAT SEN MEMORIAL: (via mrt) Take the Blue Line 5 to Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall Station, sometimes labeled as “S.Y.S. Memorial Hall”.